Everyone who owns a motor vehicle in BC must have basic vehicle insurance from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), called Basic Autoplan.
The Basic Autoplan coverage includes third party liability coverage. This means if you are at fault for an accident that damages someone else’s vehicle, your insurance will pay that other person for their damage (up to the limit of your insurance).
When your vehicle is damaged, who pays for the repairs depends on who caused the accident and whether you have collision insurance.
If the accident wasn’t your fault, ICBC may pay the whole repair bill.
If you caused the accident, but you have collision insurance with ICBC, you’ll have to pay the deductible, and ICBC will pay the rest.
If you don’t have collision insurance and you caused the accident, you will have to pay to repair your own vehicle. And you will have to pay any towing and storage charges.
If you don’t have collision insurance and ICBC hasn’t decided whether you were at fault, you may have to pay the repair shop, then try to get ICBC to pay you back later, when it decides who caused the accident.
If your vehicle is wrecked, it’s called a write-off or a total loss. This means the cost of repairs is more than the current market value of your vehicle. You don’t have the choice to get it repaired.
ICBC will calculate the market value of your vehicle based on its condition before the accident. The value depends on several things, including your vehicle’s make, model, age, mileage, condition and options.
If your vehicle is a write-off and the other driver was at fault or you have collision coverage, ICBC will pay you the current market value of your vehicle. If you still owe money to a bank (or someone else), and they had registered a lien against your vehicle, ICBC will pay the bank what you owe them and then pay the rest to you.
Other times, Dial-A-Claim may give you an appointment to take it to the nearest ICBC claim centre, where an estimator will look at it. They fill in a form listing the repairs needed. Then you take your vehicle, with the estimator’s form, to a repair shop you choose.
If you can’t drive your vehicle after the accident and it has been towed to a storage lot, ICBC will have it towed directly to a claim centre. In the Greater Vancouver area, it may be towed to ICBC’s central estimating facility first, and then to a body shop for the repairs.
If you remain unsatisfied with ICBC’s decisions, you can sue the other driver involved in the accident.
You may decide to sue for any deductible you had to pay on your collision coverage. Or, if you had no collision coverage, you may sue for the cost of your vehicle repairs or the write-off value of your vehicle.
For motor vehicle accidents taking place in BC after April 1, 2019, injury claims up to $50,000 must be brought to the Civil Resolution Tribunal. However, vehicle damage claims brought to the tribunal are capped at $5,000.
If ICBC finds you were more than 25% at fault for an accident that results in a claim — by you or the other driver — ICBC will usually increase your insurance premium the next year. If you have another claim, the increase will be even greater.
If you cause a small accident, you can pay for any damage to your vehicle and the other vehicle yourself to avoid higher insurance premiums. But you should discuss this with the ICBC adjuster for your file, as the increase in your insurance cost may be small if you’re an ICBC Roadstar customer.
If you were drinking and driving or under the influence of drugs when you had your accident, or you’re convicted of a Criminal Code offence related to motor vehicles, you’ll have problems claiming insurance because you may have violated your insurance contract. If you’re charged with any criminal offence relating to a vehicle accident, you should consult a lawyer. See our information on drinking and driving.
If you have a complaint about how ICBC handles your claim, contact its customer relations department at 604-982-6210 in the Lower Mainland or toll-free 1-800-445-9981 elsewhere. A customer relations advisor will help you. If you still feel you haven’t been treated fairly, you can make use of ICBC’s fairness process.
This information applies to British Columbia, Canada